Four village council seats are up for grabs in the upcoming El Portal elections, including the mayor’s seat.
Incumbent Daisy Black will face off against council member Claudia Cubillos for the mayor’s seat, while council member Adam Old will take on newcomer Roxanne Isaacs for the Group1 seat. Fresh faces Teresa Sanchez and Aubrey Brunson Sr. will run for the Group2 seat. Former councilman Harold Mathis will go up against newcomer Sonia Frederic for Group4
Councilman Omar Nickerson won his seat unopposed.
All seats carry two-year terms. Election day is Nov.4.
Black, who has lived in the village for 23 years, has served on the council for 14 years. She has served as mayor for eight years, on and off. She is a retired city of Miami police community-involvement specialist and a Miami-Dade County Public Schools substitute teacher with a master’s degree in public administration.
She wants to focus on fiscal responsibility and transparency, economic development, leadership with integrity and accountability, and community involvement.
She says she wants to continue assisting in village projects.
“There are two major projects pending that will bring much-needed resources to El Portal that were started under my administration, and I would like to see them completed,” she wrote in an email. “They are the redevelopment of the Little Farm Trailer Park and the El Portal Charrette.”
Cubillos, 37, has been on the council since 2008. She would like to focus on the environment, redevelopment and safety. She runs Ms. Claudia’s Village Academy. She has a degree from Florida International University in English and public relations and has lived in El Portal for seven years.
“I’m a business owner. I understand first-hand what accountability is and what it takes to create jobs,” she said.
In her tenure, she sponsored a resolution in support of equal marriage rights for gays and brought back a community newsletter and named it Peacock Express.
Incumbent Old is a graphic designer. On the council, he spearheaded the 2013 Community Design Charrette, which gave the village a resident-created vision for the master plan of El Portal, and he sponsored a domestic-partnership resolution. He said he wants to focus on the comprehensive plan.
“Now that the vision exists, the council needs to update the comprehensive plan and the zoning code to make it a reality. And we need to secure funding for the street and park improvements in the charrette,” he wrote in an email. “I think that the annexation, rezoning and trailer-park development need a lot of oversight.”
Old wants to focus on slower, safer streets, parks and community gardens, and improving government notifications and responsiveness for residents.
His opponent, newcomer Isaacs, 31, works as a career advisor for a nonprofit group and has a degree from Florida Memorial University in computer science.
“I believe the village requires an individual who can spearhead projects that will improve the community while being accessible and fiscally smart,” she wrote in an email.
She wants to focus on stopping street-flooding, economical development of the trailer park and supporting proper funding of the police department.
“As a public servant, I also hope to encourage residents to become more involved in the process, as well,” she said.
Sanchez, 36, has lived in the village for five years and was active in the community by serving on different groups responsible for many improvements for the village.
“I was appointed to serve on the Charter Review Committee, where I made suggestions on how to streamline some of our governmental processes and pushed for term limits,” she wrote in an email.
She is a sales representative at Phillips Healthcare.
Sanchez would like to focus on the charrette, the issue of whether to stay on septic or move toward municipal sewers, and securing a vote on term limits in the 2016 election.
Brunson, 51, said in an email that he is retired from law enforcement and has lived in the village for 25 years.
“Since my retirement, I have had a desire to serve this community and to become actively involved in the growth of our village,” Brunson said.
He plans to use his experience to benefit the village and its residents.
“My experience as a state and federal law enforcement officer can assist the village police department with ways to improve their relationship with the residents of El Portal,” Brunson said. “I have plans to use my core values of dedication, integrity and transparency to ensure that the village council governs itself in the best interest of all residents.”
Mathis, who is running for the Group4 seat, is hoping to return to the council after serving on the dais from 2005 to 2012. He also served as vice mayor from 2008 to 2012. He has lived in the village for 14 years.
“My decision to run again was based on the request of several residents and the current state of the village,” he said.
He is looking forward to work on several projects like the possibility of going from septic tanks to public sewers, a new rail system and the redevelopment of the Little Farm Trailer Park.
His opponent is newcomer Sonia Frederic, 30, who has a degree from Miami Dade College and who has lived in El Portal for more than 20 years and even attended local schools like Horace Mann Middle School.
“I would like to represent the village of El Portal by uniting residents and business owners,” she said. “I would want to ensure that our community remains safe, encourage positive community outreach and involvement. I also would want to ensure that a voice in our community continues to grow.”
She also wants to promote youth and senior citizen involvement while promoting health and wellness.
About the candidates
Occupation: Runs Ms. Claudia’s Village Academy preschool in El Portal.
Education: Associate’s degree from Miami Dade College; bachelor’s degree in English and public relations from Florida International University.
Has lived in the village for: seven years.
Career: Retired community involvement specialist and Miami-Dade substitute teacher.
Education: Master’s degree in public management from St. Thomas University; bachelor’s degree in public administration from Florida International University.
Has lived in El Portal for: 23 years.
Occupation: Graphic designer.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in biology, specializing in neuroscience, from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree in fine art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Has lived in El Portal for: seven years.
Occupation: Career advisor for a nonprofit organization.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in computer science from Florida Memorial University.
Has lived in the El Portal for: 24 years.
Occupation: Paralegal for a criminal defense law firm.
Education: Associate’s degree in broadcast journalism from Miami Dade College.
Has lived in El Portal for: 14 years.
Career: Studying for state registered nurse’s exam.
Education: Associate’s degree from Miami Dade College.
Has lived in El Portal for: more than 20 years.
Career: Sales representative for Phillips Healthcare .
Education: Bachelor’s degree in sociology/anthropology from Florida International University.
Has lived in El Portal for: five years.
Aubrey Brunson Sr.
Occupation: Retired law enforcement.
Education: Bachelor’s degree from South Carolina State Unbiversity.
Has lived in El Portal for: 25 years.